Sleep Matters - Emotional and Mental Health
If you are not getting enough sleep (and many millions of us are not), you need to zero in on why this is happening and what you can do about it.
Some nights you feel like you never close your eyes. Or you fall asleep just fine, but then you wake up and watch the clock. If this sounds familiar, a good night's sleep regularly escapes you. This can mean more than just some next-day grogginess. Too little sleep that results in 'tossing and turning' can affect your health, relationships, and job, and can even put your safety (and those around you at risk).
Tossing and Turning
Not getting enough sleep doesn't just make you tired. It also:
* decreases your ability to concentrate
* decreases your reaction time
* increases your memory lapses and forgetfulness
* increases your likelihood of accidents and injuries
* increases moodiness
* increases your susceptibility to illnesses
BENEFITS OF SLEEP
While you may think of sleep as merely a time of rest, researchers have found it is actually an action-packed period when many processes vital to your health and well-being occur. New evidence, for instance shows that sleep is critical for helping you strengthen your memory and ability to think clearly. Sleep also affects mood and plays a pivotal role in the normal functioning of your body's endocrine and immune systems, which regulate the release of key hormones and help protect your body from disease.
IMPACT OF SLEEP LOSS
Too little sleep is found to be associated with a variety of serious health problems, including hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alcohol use, and depression. Being sleep-deprived can also result in difficulty concentrating and making decisions, as well as forming new memories.
Lack of sleep can damage your health in other ways as well. Drowsy driving is likely the cause of more than 100,000 police-reported car crashes and more than 1,500 deaths every year. Sleeping poorly costs employers in lost productivity and also increases the risk of workplace accidents.
LATE AT NIGHT AND 'EYES WIDE OPEN'?
Some Causes of Insomnia...
* Stress and Anxiety
* Using Stimulants (including over-the-counter and prescription medications)
* Grieving over the loss of a loved one
* Chronic Pain (caused by a medical condition)
* A change in your environment
* Sleep/Wake schedule interruptions
* Medication side effects
* Menstruation, pregnancy or menopause (in women)
* A Change in your Schedule
* Environmental noise
* Extreme temperatures
SO, HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU NEED?
While sleep needs vary from person to person, to be fully alert the next day sleep experts recommend adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. However, the 'quality' of your sleep also counts. To be refreshing, your slumber needs to be continuous, not disrupted by repeated awakenings. You also need enough sleep to avoid sleep dept - this is the collective effect of not getting adequate sleep over time.
If sleepiness is interfering with your ability to carry out your daily activities, you probably need more shut-eye!
STATES AND STAGES OF SLEEP
While you are asleep, you usually pass through a repeating cycle of five phases of sleep: Stages 1,2,3,4 and REM (rapid eye movement-also know as 'dream sleep'). It takes 70-90 minutes to move through one cycle of sleep. Typically, you will have four to six cycles a night. At the end of each cycle you are nearly awake before beginning the cycles again.
Light sleep, drifting in and out
Helps refresh your body
entering deep sleep; stages 3 and 4 are the most restorative cycles
deep sleep, your body produces more cells and breaks down proteins; if awakened, you may feel groggy or disoriented
REM (Dream Sleep) stimulates the parts of your brain used for learning; breathing is more rapid, irregular, and shallow; heart rate and blood pressure rise, males may develop erections
A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP - Nine Tips to Help You Sleep Better
1. Relax Before Bedtime. Train yourself to associate restful activities with sleep and make them a part of your bedtime ritual. Try a warm bath, deep breathing, guided imagery or reading.
2. Get Regular Exercise. Exercise 30 (or more) minutes every day. Be sure to exercise at least five t six hours before going to bed
3. Steer Clear of Caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant. Don't consume caffeine in the evening, including: coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, teas, diet drugs and pain relievers which contain caffeine.
4. Make It Dark and Cozy. Have soft, comfortable bed linens and curtains to block out outside lights.
5. Limit Alcohol. Alcohol can rob you of deep sleep and keep you stuck in the lighter, less restful stages of sleep.
6. Keep the Room Temperature Pleasant. Feeling too hot or too cold can disrupt your sleep or prevent your from falling asleep.
7. Don't Just Lie There. The anxiety of not being able to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia. If you cannot sleep, get out of bed and calmly do something else until you feel tired.
8. Get Up With the Sun. Sunlight helps your body's internal clock reset itself each day.
9. Set A Sleep Schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
IDENTIFYING A SLEEP PROBLEM
While everyone has occasional sleepless nights, you need to tell your doctor about it if you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep at least three times a week. Your sleeplessness may be a type of insomnia, but it could also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or other types of Sleep Disorders.
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